Gates to pick Petraeus to lead Central Command

Defense Secretary Robert Gates on Wednesday will recommend the top U.S. commander in Iraq, Gen. David Petraeus, to lead Central Command, the military command responsible for Middle East operations.

Gates’ recommendation must go to President George W. Bush, who will then send the nomination to the U.S. Senate.

Petraeus, who has overseen a war strategy widely credited with a dramatic reduction in violence in Iraq, will replace former Adm. William Fallon, who resigned after a reported break with Bush over Iran policy.

Pentagon sources also said they expected Lt. Gen. Raymond Odierno, now No. 2 in Iraq, to replace Petraeus as top commander in that war. They said Lt. Gen. Peter Chiarelli, Gates’ military advisor, would likely become the No. 2 commander in Iraq.